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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Constructing a One-Handed Keyboard for Accessible Coding

Kian Ryan is a advisor and software program engineer, which implies that he spends loads of time typing. A few years in the past, he suffered an harm to his left shoulder the reduces his energy. He’ll want an operation to deal with that, however the operation will take his left arm out of fee for a number of months whereas he recovers. Shedding his skill to kind can be catastrophic in his line of labor, so he got down to construct a one-handed keyboard for accessible typing.

I lately had a medical process that made my very own left hand unusable for just a few days, which is an enormous deal for a author like myself. I merely needed to take break day work, however that received’t be an possibility for Ryan as a result of the restoration will final a number of months. He wanted an answer that might let him proceed working whereas recovering.

He investigated the one-handed typing choices that have been on the market, however wasn’t glad with any of them. Chorded keyboards (like these utilized by stenographers), for instance, have an especially steep studying curve that might be extreme for a state of affairs that’s solely momentary. Then he got here throughout FrogPad, which has similarities however depends on layers of key maps based mostly on letter frequency. Some letters are way more widespread than others, so these go on the highest layers. This retains the variety of keys down with as few layer-shifts as doable.

Ryan’s customized keyboard, impressed by the FrogBad, makes use of half of a Lily58 keyboard. One half of the cut up keyboard offers 24 keys in a comparatively conventional staggered format, plus one other 5 that the thumb can attain. It displays the keyboard matrix with a Professional Micro working QMK firmware.

As a result of this has QMK, Ryan was capable of configure a customized layered key map just like the FrogPad’s. It has some devoted quantity and management keys (very helpful for a programmer), with 15 keys containing alpha characters, punctuation, and so forth throughout a number of layers. Relegendable key caps let Ryan present details about the characters on every layer.

However, in fact, wanting on the keyboard whereas typing can be very inefficient. So Ryan turned to some previous mates to construct some typing proficiency together with his new keyboard. He took benefit of typing coaching video games (like many people used as kids), akin to Mario Teaches Typing, to get acquainted with the weird keyboard format.

Now Ryan has all of the instruments he wants to remain productive whereas recovering from his operation.

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